Three leadership perspectives on US interdisciplinary environmental and sustainability programs: a review of the findings of the 2003-2014 studies of the Center for Environmental Education Research, National Council for Science and the Environment

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Abstract

The Center for Environmental Education Research (CEER) of the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) conducts ongoing research to better understand the structure and curricula of interdisciplinary environmental and sustainability (IES) education and research programs in the USA. NCSE is a not-for-profit organization that specializes in programs that foster collaboration between the diverse institutions and individuals creating and using environmental knowledge, including research, education, environmental, and business organizations as well as governmental bodies at all levels. It hosts an annual conference and global forum on science, policy, and the environment and serves as the secretariat for four US professional organizations for environmental and sustainability academics: the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS), the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD), the Council of Energy Research and Education Leaders (CEREL), and the Community College Affiliate Program (CCAP). NCSE initiated its extensive research program in 2003 with a study designed to understand the nature and number of IES program academic leaders’ perspectives on ideal curriculum design for baccalaureate and graduate degree programs. This study revealed a consensus on the identity of the IES field, or what distinguishes it from other disciplines and professional fields (Vincent and Focht 2009; Vincent and Focht 2010). It also discovered three distinct, but not opposing, perspectives on the goals of IES education (Vincent 2010; Vincent and Focht 2011). Subsequent CEER research studies have consistently discovered that program leaders have three distinct views on various aspects of IES program administration with overlapping areas of consensus. These dimensions include the educational goal of IES programs (and the desirability of defined core competencies), ideal curriculum design for undergraduate programs, and the factors important for program success. Although imperfect and not predictive, statistical correlations reveal relationships between the three sets of findings. This paper will provide a review of the findings of these studies, examine the relationships between the views, and discuss the implications for the ongoing evolution of IES education and research in higher education institutions in the USA.

Keywords

Higher education Environmental education Sustainability education Program administration Leadership 

References

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Copyright information

© AESS 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Environmental Education Research, National Council for Science and the EnvironmentWashingtonUSA

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